Texas, the state that was once a country, has some unique features in its governance. One is that its state legislature meets only every other year for a maximum of 140 days, starting from “noon on the second Tuesday in January.” This year, the Legislature convened Jan. 12 and will wrap up its work on May 31 before breaking until 2023. And it will do so without making a widely expected change to Texas’ auto dealer franchise laws that would finally allow Tesla to sell its cars—many of which will be built at its new Austin factory next year—directly to the public in the nation’s second-largest state.
Teslas haven’t been completely unavailable to Texans this whole time; instead, buyers have had to use various inconvenient loopholes to take home their new electric cars. Now, Tesla is on the verge of having to jump through the most ridiculous one yet: having to ship its Texas-built vehicles out of the state before it can sell (and ship) them back to Lone Star buyers.
This is not some weird hypothetical. There’s not enough time left in the current legislative section to advance the bill that was supposed to avert that Kafkaesque outcome. This is going to happen unless Texas Governor Greg Abbott calls a special session specifically to debate this topic—extremely unlikely—or some arcane regulatory exemption can be crafted for Tesla in the months ahead. So how did we end up here?